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How to Leverage Google Instant Previews for Business Success

18 Nov Posted by in Blog, SEO | 1 comment
How to Leverage Google Instant Previews for Business Success

What is Google Instant Previews?

Instant previews” are snapshots of webpages that pop up on the right side of the Google result page (SERP) every time  a user clicks on a magnifying glass that shows up to the right of a search-result link.

Google previews

Google Instant Previews allows users to see what a website looks like before committing to click through to the webpage.

Preview is not on by default for all searches, and only turns on once a person clicks the magnifying glass on the page. Then, when the user hovers over any search result, he/she sees a custom-generated preview of the target page that shows exactly where the relevant snippet is in the page and in which context it is used:

snippet instant previews

Despite this change, the algorithm hasn’t change and the results are shown in the exact same order as they were before Instant Previews.

Why does it matter to you?

Before introducing Google Instant previews, users were not able to assess the relevancy of a web page right on the search engine result page. They had to ‘guess’ it only based on the snippet, specifically through:

  • The title of the page
  • The description
  • The URL

Now, thanks to instant Previews users can determine if a result is the optimal answer to their needs right on the Google page, without the need to click and land on it.

Now they are able to find quicker and better answers to these questions right on the Google result page and also compare and contrast them before choosing.
For Google, this means increasing the engagement and interaction of people on the result page.

Before the introduction of Google Instant Previews, users had to answer the following questions ONLY when they landed on a web page:

  • Who is this company?
  • What kind of company is this?
  • Can I relate to them?
  • Does it communicate value and uniqueness?
  • Does it look easy to navigate?

Now they are able to find quicker and better answers to these questions right on the Google result page and also compare and contrast them before choosing.

For Google, this means increasing the engagement and interaction of people on the result page.

But what are the implciations for you as business owner trying to make money through Search engine Marketing?

The are the major ones:

  • Branding: Google Instant Preview is a great opportunity to put on our “best outfit” with potential customers, which means it’s another place you need to be examining your presentation and branding.
  • Google AdWords: there is no Instant Preview on AdWords results so this means that the value of your paid ads should decrease. Also if your ad is in position 4+, it’s like to being there at all when the searcher clicks on the magnifying glass. Have a look at this image:
  • Google adwords instant previews

  • Google Analytics: apparently every time a user activates the Instant Preview by clicking on the magnifying glass, Google Analytics counts it as a visit to the website, so, if you are ranking on 1st page, you might expect visits to increase. Also, once a users clicks the magnifying glass, Google also loads previews for the other results in the background so that the user can flip through them without waiting. This, apprently, also means that your website gets a visit if a searcher previews another result that appears on the same SERP, even if your preview doesn’t get looked at. Unfortunately, Google Analytics doesn’t yet provide the tools to examine or filter these preview fetches without significant development work. Also, for now there’s no way to determine whether a visitor viewed a preview before clicking through to your site.
  • Design and Usability. Try to type into Google your main keyword and have a look at the previews that grab your attention. If your website doesn’t stand out among them, it means you should make some improvements… but where do you start from?

10 Tips for Google Instant Previews Success

  1. Quality design becomes absolutely essential:
    • Keep it clean, structured and eliminate unnecessary content
    • Attract attention with a clear, unique value proposition
    • Place strong calls to action on every page
    • Keep your content in 2 or 3 columns
    • Don’t use to many colours
    • Google Instant Previews impacts not only the homepage design but the landing pages as well. People might search for a particular term and end up not on the home page but on the landing page >> focus on the design of the entire site, not just on the home page
  2. Move away from Flash, Google doesn’t like it. Even javascript and Ajax appear to be problematic. This is the preview of a web page that leverages Flash technologies: Google and Flash
  3. Flash technology prevents the image above to be displayed in preview, creating a big gap on the page that doesn’t appeal to the searcher.

  4. Don’t stuff the footer, keep it minimal
  5. Leverage large images: Images have always played a big role in visitor attraction and retention but with everything on your page scaled down to near nothingness in a preview thumbnail, images become a huge part of the message.
  6. Improve your website speed
  7. Avoid pop-ups
  8. Focus on keyword research: make sure your page targets one and only one keyword that is highly relevant to the users. Now more than ever you really want users to find what they are looking for on your website and not on the competitor’s one that is right above or under you
  9. Make specials and promotions prominent:specials instant previews
  10. Speak your customers language
  11. If you don’t want Google to show a preview of your website, you can add the so-called “Nosnippet meta tag” to your pages and there will be no preview ( but this will also mean there will be no snippet shown for the page in the search results and which can negatively impact your rankings).

Need help with your key landing pages?

The new Instant Preview feature is a fantastic opportunity to attract potential customers, improve your reputation, and build your brand. However if your site does not follow the best practices in design and usability, then maybe it’s time to rethink your home page as well as your landing pages.

Our online marketing forums are open and available to all members providing you exclusive access to our team of web and search marketing professionals. Ask for feedback on your website and we’ll provide you some recommendations.

If you haven’t taken advantage of the discounted 6 month membership for $88 made available by the AusIndustry Small Business Online Program then I suggest you head over to and register for the virtual workshop program today as time is running out!

*Photo credits: Desiree Delgado

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A landing page is the page visitors arrive at after clicking on your ad or any call to action. Your landing page has to convince the visitor to stay and (depending on your goal):
Even after a customer has decided to accept your offer, the conversion can be lost. Any flaw in site functionality and usability can cause you to lose the conversion, so ensure your privacy information is posted and there are no hiccups in form processing.
Most business leave a lot of money on the table becasue they don't understand the importance of optimising their web pages to maximise conversions (conversion rate optimisation - CRO)